The Ogre was quite contented with his dinner, and the Ogress got great praise for the way in which she had darned his stockings. Thus it went on for four days more. As the widow’s little girl wouldn’t work if her companions were killed, the Ogress cooked the pigs one after another, and the children were all sent away with burnt forefingers.
When the fifth had been dismissed, and all the pigs were eaten, the Ogress said:
“To-morrow you will have to be stewed, and now I wish I had kept one of the others that I might have saved you altogether to work for me. However, there is one comfort, the stockings are finished.”
But meanwhile the other children had got safely home, and had told their tale. And all the men of the place set off at once to attack the Ogre, and release the widow’s child. Guided by the needles, they arrived just as the Ogress was sharpening the big knife for the last time.
So they killed the Ogre and his wife, and took the industrious little maid back to her mother.
The other little girls were now very repentant; and when their fingers were well, they all learned to darn stockings at once.
And as there was now no danger about going into the wood, it was no longer forbidden. And this being the case, the children were much less anxious to play there than formerly.
THE FIDDLER IN THE FAIRY RING.
Generations ago, there once lived a farmer’s son, who had no great harm in him, and no great good either. He always meant well, but he had a poor spirit, and was too fond of idle company.
One day his father sent him to market with some sheep for sale, and when business was over for the day, the rest of the country-folk made ready to go home, and more than one of them offered the lad a lift in his cart.
“Thank you kindly, all the same,” said he, “but I am going back across the downs with Limping Tim.”
Then out spoke a steady old farmer and bade the lad go home with the rest, and by the main road. For Limping Tim was an idle, graceless kind of fellow, who fiddled for his livelihood, but what else he did to earn the money he squandered, no one knew. And as to the sheep path over the downs, it stands to reason that the highway is better travelling after sunset, for the other is no such very short cut; and has a big fairy ring so near it, that a butter-woman might brush it with the edge of her market cloak, as she turned the brow of the hill.
But the farmer’s son would go his own way, and that was with Limping Tim, and across the downs.
So they started, and the fiddler had his fiddle in his hand, and a bundle of marketings under his arm, and he sang snatches of strange songs, the like of which the lad had never heard before. And the moon drew out their shadows over the short grass till they were as long as the great stones of Stonehenge.